Nashville, Tenn. - FGCU ended its previous postseason trouble of late with a five-set win vs. No. 2 Kennesaw State on Friday. The Eagles had made it to the semifinals six seasons in a row but this will be the first time since 2009 they will see the ASUN Volleyball Conference Championship Final.
Kennesaw State's ability to pass into high percentage kill areas pushed the Owls to an early 14-10 lead in the first. Through the first 24 points KSU hit .333, finishing the frame at .241. Hitter Anaiah Boyer would get six kills in the opener along with the first solo block of the match. With Amanda Carroll taking 15 of FGCU's 29 swings it was clear the Eagles planned to feed her the same way they have all season. Despite the sophomore tallying six kills at a .333 average it would not be enough, as KSU took the first 25-19.
FGCU jumped out of the gate in the second looking to take things even into the break. The Eagles scored four in a row at the berth of the frame and would carry a lead through the entire period, winning by a 25-21 margin. After being outblocked in the first FGCU put up four rejections in the second with two coming by way of solos from Carroll and freshman Daniele Serrano. ASUN All-Freshman Giovanna Borgiotti led both squads with four kills for the Eagles, while Maggie Rick surpassed the 20-assist mark for the 47th consecutive time going back to 2015.
It would be Kennesaw State's to run the gambit in the third. The Owls would lead from start to finish, scoring 13 kills on 32 swings to win by a score of 25-20. The recently named ASUN Volleyball Defensive Player of the Year Katarina Morton reached 10 digs in that third frame and added her 21st service ace of the year. As a team, the Owls tallied another three rejections and took a 10 to eight advantage on the Eagles heading into the fourth.
Set four required extra points to determine a winner, with both teams registering 10 kills. Carroll would add another five to her kill column along with her second solo rejection of the night. It was a back and forth period with neither team grabbing more than a two point lead. Ultimately, it would come down to the impressive defensive play of the Eagles, who as a team, served up six blocks in the fourth period. The Fort Myers squad would take the decision by a count of 15-11 and carry the momentum into the fifth.
The Owls fell behind by a count of 4-1 in the deciding game before battling back to even things at seven. Junior Kristi Piedimonte would assist on all six of Kennesaw State's kills and dig up two balls over the coures of the fifth but a relentless attack from FGCU would be too much for KSU to overcome. The Eagles swung 28 times to the Owls' 20 and averaged .250 to take the set and the match.
FGCU is the fourth consecutive three-seed to make the ASUN Championship Final. The Eagles faceoff with host No. 1 Lipscomb in Nashville this Saturday at 5 PM CT. The Bisons took a share of this season's regular season title and will be looking for their second straight postseason championship.
No. 2 Kennesaw State vs. No. 3 FGCU Notes
- Amanda Carroll averages 5.1 points per set on the season is first in the ASUN and 14th in Division I Volleyball. She not only led the match in kills but led her team with 20 digs.
- FGCU's 15 blocks on the night are the most the team has tallied on the year. The last time the Eagles posted 15 rejections was on September 17, 2015.
- Both sides played excellent defense, as FGCU was held almost .100 under its average hitting percentage (.122) and Kennesaw State was kept at just .109.
- This is the first time that FGCU has made it to the #ASUNVB Championship Final since 2009, and is 1-1 against Kennesaw State in the postseason.